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What is the future of work?

It’s always an interesting exercise to ponder what the future holds. With the pandemic that lasted for a couple of years, a lot has changed.

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Who Am I and why am I speaking about this?

Well, my name is Anish Mahapatra and I am currently a Senior Data Scientist with a Fortune 200 Retail Giant. I have been in the field of Data Science for several and bring a fresh perspective from the perspective. I have helped over 2000+ people get into Data Science and mentor people. I am a webinar expert and interact with Data Science aspirants. Having finished my Post Graduation Diploma in Data Science from IIIT Bangalore and my Master’s in Data Science with Distinction, I am extremely passionate about Data Science. (LinkedIn).

All of the opinions expressed in this article are my opinion and are not representative of the company I am currently working in or any of my clients.

1. Will the current trends of layoffs and the hiring freeze stay?

Well, the short answer is that it depends. It depends on your skill sets, the country where you are working, grit and determination and even your degrees! The pandemic created a small bubble for most tech companies where there were extremely bullish trends. So, employees became bullish on their future as well.

We had the new terms that were introduced over the past year:

  • The Great Resignation: The Great Resignation, also known as the Big Quit and the Great Reshuffle, is an economic trend in which employees have voluntarily resigned from their jobs en masse, beginning in early 2021 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Source: Wikipedia)

  • Quiet Quitting: Performing your duties, but no longer subscribing to the hustle culture mentality that work has to be your life. (Source: World Economic Forum)

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Some interesting facts about the Great resignation, Resignation rates are the highest among mid-career employees and those in technology and healthcare. (Source)

Does the question arise why work like your life depends on it? Well, the answer depends on the stage of life you are in. If you are in the learning stage of life, the more you work, the more you learn. If you are in mid-management or senior, if you are not abreast of the latest trends, you can become redundant fast. The fact is, that Corporate is a pyramid. Not many people are on the top, so, if you can work for a limited time and remain on top (only possible if you are always in the latest technology), you will always be relevant.

So, the question was will the current trend of layoffs and hiring freeze stay? Well, based on historical analysis, yes, the market sentiment will stay negative for the next six months to the mid of 2024, but anyone who is skilled with something that the market wants will always have a great job waiting for them. Remember, luck favours the prepared.

Success is when hard work and preparation meet opportunity.

1.1 How does this change the labour market dynamics?

There is an uneven recovery in the labour market. Sectors such as accommodation and food services are yet to recover, whereas professional and technical services have seen a strong recovery. Remember, everything said in this article is my personal opinion and not representative of the company I work with when you read this article (LinkedIn).

Low-wage and medium-wage employees will always be at the suffering end when the market suffers a loss. You can get a job with a less popular skill, and it will be relevant for a few years. But the fact is

We do not get paid for how hard we work, we get paid for how hard we are to replace.

As long as you have spent your time improving your skills or making more money, and not spent your time spending your money, you are safe. Luck favours the brave, and, it is critical to always be on the side of supply for limited demand. The market is simple if you dumb it down, for areas of high demand, always be part of the limited supply. This will artificially increase the value that people perceive, albeit temporarily. Do this and you are on your way to millions.

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Quick Note: Tech workers were overpaid, especially in the US. The funda is always: Make hay when the sun shines. So, if you are always in a “hot” area, you will always earn more than the market says you deserve.

For investors, the long-term impact is minimal. The rule has always been in line with the 80–20 Pareto Principle, which states that 80% of the work is done by 20% of the individuals.

1.2 Is there a skill gap between company requirements and skills possessed by the workers?

If I say yes, you will be surprised. And, if I say no, you will oppose.

The answer is a resounding yes, there is a wide skill gap between the company requirements and the skills workers possess. The surprising part is that it has always been this way. Colleges are not equipped to teach industry skills. The syllabus is generally at least a decade older than the requirement. There is a reason that YouTube is more relevant than your decade-old syllabus. Then again, we can’t blame colleges for trying their best.

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There are two alternatives:

  1. The industry should set and be involved in making the syllabus for colleges (far-fetched expectations). Sometimes, companies are involved in the syllabus, and the same syllabus is taught for a decade, and, by that time it is irrelevant.

  2. Read the market and develop the necessary skills. There are two ways to go about life.

What are my top 5 skills and what is the maximum you can pay me for the skills? Or, what are the top 5 skills required in the market, and how can I get paid in the top 1 percentile in the market for those skills?

This covers the college-industry aspect of it. Then, we come to the working professional environment. It is impossible to know everything about everything. Put more value in the interview than in the work that you need to do.

The value of any company lies only and only in the interview process. If you are even remotely adaptable, you will survive in the company.

2. Will companies be employee-centric next year?

Companies only care about the bottom line. Let’s not make companies seem evil, the fact is that companies are responsible to their shareholders.

Through the pandemic, a new trend has emerged, companies need to care about their employees to retain them and keep profits high. So, yes, companies are going to be employees centric, until it helps them keep their bottom line high. This is not indicative of the future.

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In the coming quarters, companies will put forth budgets which will help them keep profits high, and part of the expense is being employee-centric.

2.1 Companies are restructuring employee benefits to balance two things: market competitive pricing vs. cost savings. How will this work out for us?

Companies are bound to be more employee-centric to retain the best employees. As long as it is within reasonable market demand, companies will fight for retention. For instance, in a market that generates a profit of $10 million, it is reasonable to pay the top employee $300,000. Whereas, in a market where the profit is $3 million, it is unreasonable to expect $300,000. The best thing that an employee can do is to constantly up-skill themselves to ensure that they add maximum value to the company.

Similarly, companies need to work to compensate employees fairly. The new-age employees are smart, tech-savvy and efficient. If the value offered is much higher in the market, they will move to a better position. It is critical to use ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) Platforms to ensure the employees with the highest skills are paid above the median. This is especially important with websites like Glassdoor and AmbitionBox making salaries more transparent.

2.2 How do moonlighting and quiet quitting affect the labour market?

As I stated cautiously earlier, all of the opinions expressed in this article are my opinion and are not representative of the company I am currently working in or any of my clients. Moonlighting is not something companies should be worried about. To be honest, a small percentage of employees are physically, mentally and psychologically equipped to work multiple gigs at the end of the day. Even if they do, it is such a small rolling percentage that it does not even matter.

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However, if an employee is working for a competitor or in a competing scenario, it is highly unethical and immoral. Employees like this should be terminated.

The Gig Economy is here and it is the future of the highly-skilled workforce. If someone is smart enough to utilise their time wisely and efficiently, they benefit multiple parties and deserve to do so. From the perspective of the economy, this leads to exponential growth. Quiet quitting is a new term that has bought interest into the age-old practice of doing the “bare minimum”. It has and always been around for as long as people have worked. To state the Pareto principle, 80% of the work is done by 20% of the workforce.

3. Top predictions for the coming years

There are many trends to govern the coming years. One steady place that has been a great predictor is Gartner’s Hype Cycle.

Gartner Hype Cycle (Source)

However, I specialise in Data Science. My predictions for the coming years are MLOps and Cyber Security.

3.1 What are the trends to look out for in the coming years?

87% of ML models do not go into production.

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What does that mean?

ML Models are not making money. MLOps stands for Machine Learning Operationalisation.

The MLOps Process (Source)

Cybersecurity has been a need for the hour, where there is a clear gap between supply and demand. Cybersecurity teams are going to move from a descriptive approach that is currently applied to a more predictive and prescriptive approach.


Well, that’s my opinion about the future of work. Please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn here to get the pdf, where I discuss the future scope of work for college students, mid-level management and senior management in detail. (LinkedIn).

Google Me. Anish Mahapatra.
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